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The title is my offered translation of a slogan chanted at a protest event I attended today at the town hall in Granada, Spain, with a friend. ¡La calle para quien la pisa!
According to Granada Indymedia and other things I’ve seen, a local “coexistence” ordinance for Granada entered into force on 10 November which prohibits on the city’s streets, well, basically everything not approved by the authorities. From my perhaps defective reading of the commentary I’ve seen in Spanish, “coexistence” is indeed the correct answer, if the question is, “How shall we, the city’s ruling class, suffer these filthy beggars?”
Among the acts banned are:
- All forms of prostitution (via legal constructions which, I hear second-hand, are worded so generally that the police could arrest attractively-clad women based on the types of glances they cast at men)
- Begging at public transport locations, “institutional attention” centers and private property (read: damn near anywhere), with the goal of forcing beggars into the welfare system
- Acrobatics and games of skill involving bicycles, skates, skateboards or balloons, outside ares designated for such
- All “public acts” or protests done without permission, which might in any way block traffic or create a public security hazard
- The purchase or acquisition in public spaces of food, drinks or other products from unpermitted walking vendors
- Allowing dust to fall on the street as a result of cleaning clothes or carpets on balconies or terraces
- Allowing water to fall on the street due to watering plants located outside a building
- Spitting or meeting other bodily needs in public spaces
- Performing as a street musician, especially if collecting money
- Handling or selecting things deposited in city trash bins (which, by the way, you’re not allowed to put your rubbish into except between 8pm and 11pm)
- Washing, fixing or carrying out maintenance work on vehicles in public spaces
- Placing pamphlets or leaflets on vehicles or movable property
Nope, no institutionalized privilege here.
The law provides for the immediate seizure of any instruments, object, money or other “fruits or products obtained via the violating activity”, subject to being passed into evidence in a court proceeding or being forfeited.
A leaflet distributed at the protest says: “They are converting the streets into a place reserved for going to work or to shop”, and, “With the excuse of ‘promoting coexistence’, they would try to rob us of one of the last remnants of freedom left to us: the streets.”
All told, there were maybe 400 people in attendance at Plaza del Carmen. My friend, from a smaller city in northern France, remarked that such an event there might have drawn 10,000 people without being a big surprise.
The protest was largely street theater. A guy with a seriously-modified, six-foot-tall bicycle came riding around with a sign attached saying how what he was doing was illegal. A couple of girls invited the crowd to jump rope in the square. Another pair carried a clothesline strung between two broomsticks, festooned with underpants. Juggling occurred. Balls were thrown around, as were balloons. A guy cheaply costumed as a police officer (complete with cardboard riot shield, helmet face mask, inner-tube baton and a sign on his back reading “You may circulate and obey”) made a show of beating up some giggling kids.
Maybe 20 local police were there, and made a show of putting their riot helmets on as the protesters made a show of rushing the entrance to city hall. Not a whole lot really happened, though, since none among the protesters seemed to have had the foresight to bring pitchforks or rifles along.